With classes resuming Tuesday, testing available for symptomatic staff, students.
Sarasota County Schools will be back in session Tuesday following the winter break, and officials last week reminded parents and staff of the availability of COVID-19 testing of students and staff.
Appointment-only testing is available Monday through Friday at Florida Department of Health locations in North Port (8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), Osprey (8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and the Ringling Boulevard office in Sarasota (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) for symptomatic faculty, staff and students.
School staffers, faculty or parents and guardians must complete the COVID-19 Test Request form and email it to [email protected]. If you can't email the request, call 861-2941. When leaving a voicemail, include your name and return-call telephone number.
Students broke for the winter break on Dec. 23, and the school district has not updated its online dashboard of student and staff positive COVID-19 cases, but it plans to resume frequent updates as classes begin.
Parents are also reminded that face masks remain optional, in keeping with state law that eliminates mask mandates, though a message sent to parents last week included a reminder that masks are advised for anyone inside a school building, quoting Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols.
The district started the academic year with a mask mandate that would have automatically rescinded when the local rate of positive COVID-19 test results fell to 8% but would have reinstated with three consecutive days of a 10% positive test result rate. On Aug. 26, the Department of Health reported a positive rate of 15%. Last week, Sarasota County's seven-day positive rate was 21.49%
Also part of an emailed reminder to parents, the district said contact tracing and quarantine protocols were in line with the state's surgeon general.
The reminder said: "Parents and legal guardians of students who are known to have been direct contact with an individual who received a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 may choose one of the following options:
"Allow the student to attend school, school-sponsored activities or be on school property, without restrictions or disparate treatment, so long as the student remains asymptomatic; or
"Quarantine the student. A quarantined student can return to school on/after the eighth day from exposure."
The school district also asked parents who could do so to drive children to school as a means of reducing school bus ridership. "Though our school buses are cleaned thoroughly and regularly, a temporary decrease in the overall amount of bus riders may help reduce the rate of potential COVID spread on our buses,'' the district said.
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